Solo travel is becoming increasingly popular, with 40% of 55 to 64 year-olds having travelled alone within the past 12 months. Women over 40 are also leading the way, making up 84% of solo travellers. With this in mind, Sainsbury’s Bank has created a guide that takes you through everything you need to know before you take off, from packing essentials to solo travel tips on making friends and staying safe.

New to travelling solo? Start small. Weekend trips can be a great way to get accustomed to going it alone without any major commitment, or even any days off work. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a complete break from your day-to-day, then taking a career break for a six-month adventure could be exactly what you need. The great thing about solo travel is that you are in complete control, and you get to decide exactly where and when you go.

For more solo travel tips, read our interview with Dawn Simone, founder of solo female travel company, Elle Voyage.

Now you’re older, you’ll have a greater understanding of yourself and what you want from your trip. Use this to your advantage and make the most of learning about local cultures and history, going solo will allow you to fully soak in your surroundings. The confidence you’ll feel from overcoming any fears that you had about travelling alone will be not only be empowering but also addictive.

You’ll more than likely feel like a different person once you return home – more confident, tolerant and adventurous. Use this to make positive changes to your home life, especially if you have difficulty fitting back into exactly how you left it. Reconnect with friends and family with lots of stories to tell and make the most of the world becoming a smaller place with new friends to visit abroad.

For more solo travel tips for the over 40s and helpful travelling advice, check out this handy guide by Sainsbury’s Bank.